Wednesday 16 October 2019

Mum loses €75k defamation case over Irish Rail ticket row

Nicola Dowd lost her case
Nicola Dowd lost her case

A Dublin-based legal assistant who was questioned about an invalid train ticket has lost a €75,000 defamation case against Irish Rail and been ordered to pay its costs.

Mother-of-two Nicola Dowd, of The Avenue, Walshestown Park, Newbridge, Co Kildare, claimed two inspectors had shouted aggressively as they approached her on the Dublin to Newbridge train and defamed, embarrassed, intimidated and shamed her in front of a whole carriage.

Throwing out her claim, Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke said he had a problem with Ms Dowd's allegation that she felt scared, intimidated and bullied as he did not see her as a person who would be very easily scared, intimidated or bullied.

Instead, he found her to be very strong in her views and opinions.

Mr Justice Groarke told Jeri Ward, counsel for Irish Rail, that he could not see that what had been said to Ms Dowd on the train by the inspectors had been defamatory.

They had made a simple statement of fact that she had travelled on an invalid ticket.

Ms Ward told the court that on January 22 and 23 last year, Ms Dowd had travelled from Dublin to Newbridge on a short-hop ticket that entitled her to travel from Dublin to Sallins.


When ticket inspector Gary Dunne boarded the train beyond Sallins, at the Hazelhatch and Celbridge stop, he told her she had an invalid ticket.

Mr Dunne, in evidence, said he had been courteous and professional in dealing with the matter.

Ms Ward reminded Ms Dowd in cross-examination that in an email she had sent to Irish Rail's customer care department, she described Mr Dunne as "a nasty, ignorant, rude, abusive and aggressive individual who has no business working on public transport".

Mr Justice Groarke said there was an issue of credibility in the case between Ms Dowd and Mr Dunne as to what had been said.

He was resolving that issue against Ms Dowd for the reason that, on January 29, she had again been addressed by an inspector on the same train when she did not have a valid ticket.

He said she had offered the explanation that she was entitled to travel on a monthly ticket she had bought for February, which did not become valid until three days later, "and I believe that she knew perfectly well that wasn't the case".

The court heard that the price of a monthly return ticket between Dublin and Newbridge was €237, while the price of the monthly short-hop return ticket between Dublin and Sallins was €154.

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